Moses Znaimer Unveils the MZ Museum of Television
Philco Predicta “Pedestal”, 1958
Montreal. 1955. A 13-year-old boy scrounges together the money he’s earned from various jobs – making pharmacy deliveries, educational tutoring, setting pins at the bowling alley – and his bar mitzvah and purchases a $200 Admiral television set for his family. On the first night he stays up late watching it, his eyes fixed to the moving pictures that, until then, were only accessible at the local movie theatre.
“I had this really crisp realization that this was revolutionary because it was coming to me,” says Moses Znaimer, Canadian media mogul and Founder and CEO of ZoomerMedia (which encompasses multiple platforms including Vision TV and Zoomer magazine) when recalling that childhood moment. “I didn’t have to go to it…and it was in perpetual flow.”
On Thursday, nearly six decades after purchasing his first TV, Znaimer unveiled the MZ Museum of Television – a massive display of some of the more than 400 pre- and post-war television sets he’s collected since the mid-1960s.
The museum’s opening ceremonies included a ribbon-cutting, speeches from dignitaries – including Znaimer, Leman, and Bennett-Levy – documentary screenings, the Ontario debut of the Cinémathèque québécoise exhibition Aspects of the Global Village: The Television Era in Canada, 1950-2000, and a reception.
The seeds of Znaimer’s passion for collecting televisions began after he spotted a Philco Predicta “Pedestal” in the office of CBS Labs President Peter Goldmark in the mid-1960s.
“I thought it was beautiful,” he recalls, “So as soon as I got back to Toronto I decided to go get my own. And it was because I found it difficult to find that I began to realize something, and that was that … TVs had so rapidly become so ubiquitous, that the construction in the public mind was this was not the family silverware, this was the toaster. As soon as the new toaster came out, you dumped the old one.”
It took Znaimer nearly a year to track down a Philco Predicta of his own, during which time he, “developed this conviction that it was worth trying to find them, preserve them, and eventually make them available to the public.”
In 1992, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of CityTV, which he founded, Znaimer held the first exhibition of his collection, which numbered around three to four dozen. Around this time he also began getting more serious about examining the history of the medium and purchasing other people’s collections.
“No one else was [collecting televisions],” Leman says when discussing Znaimer’s collection. “And having done it, everybody thinks it was obvious. Well, it wasn’t obvious 20 years ago because everybody said ‘Why waste your time?’ It wasn’t a waste of time.”
In fact, he suggests, “you can link some of the artifacts that are next door to things that we still haven’t quite achieved today.”
Standing near Samsung’s latest, ultra high-definition 4K televisions, he notes, “This is something that was achieved in a laboratory by John Logie Baird in 1943, and we have now reached where he got with that technology. Those are the patents he left. He died in 1946 [and] he left behind 178 patents critical to television, and the ideas contained in those patents are now being realized, and we’re looking at them right now.”